the beneficient the devout saffet khanum effendi

i was standing on a hill i remember it was evening
your horses sturdy hungarian your lace german

neither in göksu listening to nightingales nor abdülhak şinasi bey
the fleeting warm glow of love i felt then

when did you die o when
grimy snow still around april hadn’t come

he was rüştü pasha known in the ottoman army as rüştü the mad
he had an enormous moustache hamit was the sultan

in those days everything just happened and we were bewildered
freedom constitutionalism thirty first of march so on and so forth

and ships up and down the bosphorus ships up and down
twirling his moustache he wasn’t troubled then my pasha husband

he was rüştü pasha had a beard just a beard maybe
a forest of a beard in his past probably

switzerland lausanne a son a daughter two daughters-in-law one son-in-law
how i wept after a terrible fire only i know

my sleep is disrupted i watch over the mansion now
say o feather of the lovebird say when death will come

i was always tending protecting being angry with something or other
rüştü pasha in those days had a harem a beard a lot of anger

i was standing on a hill I remember it was evening
your horses sturdy hungarian your lace german

minister of marine affairs tevfik pasha ceasefires and so forth
how the ground gave way beneath my feet

mother’s countless clothes the tram sharpened turmoil
what a beautiful child i was loneliness left behind

a seaside residence in yeniköy houses in fatih moonlit times
he was called hero in domokos rüştü pasha in yıldız

when does each of us die surely when our roses wilt
i accepted couldn’t understand i died couldn’t understand the evening i didn’t accept

i never died before my july wearing my pearls
göksu graced by our presence under the evening lights

my rose when does it wilt when the sea when the evening
when were ships when my pasha husband

now by my bedside a candelabra is at rest
say o göksu evening say hafiz burhan when is death

prayers are sung behind a ship waves are left
I saffet khanum effendi have died the beneficient the devout

Turgut Uyar (1927-1985). salihat-ı nisvandan saffet hanımefendi’ye. Translated from the Turkish.

The poem refers to events, characters and places in the period of the Ottoman Empire around the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth centuries.

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